By J1 Reporter Mary Watson
A quarterback is a position on a football team. Anybody surprised? Learn anything new? Nope, I didn’t think so. Ok, how about this fact: A concertmaster is the student leader of an orchestra. Everybody knew that too, right? No? I conducted a survey in my Journalism class. Out of 14 people surveyed, all 14 had heard of a quarterback. Only three had ever heard of a concertmaster, the orchestral equivalent.
Sports have beaten music in a popularity contest since the beginning of time. Television honors games with prime television time, fans dress in their team’s colors when game day arrives, and ranting and screaming about why your team’s loss was really the referee’s fault is a beautiful conversation starter. Sports undoubtedly have physical benefits as well, keeping those who play fit and strong.
On the flip side of that coin, sports have not been shown to improve test scores. Moreover, according to livestrong.com, 1,060,823 emergency room visits for football injuries happened in the span of five years. Add these facts to the very low percentage of football players who become professionals, and sports’ status begins to wilt a bit.
Now, let’s talk about music. Anyone who has ever been to a performance and felt “chills” knows that vocal and instrumental performances can be very entertaining. A study published by PBS shows that the test scores of elementary students with good music programs are 20 percent to 22 percent higher than those with poor music programs. The high school equivalent of this data is the difference between a 25 on the ACT and a 30 on the ACT, or even a 30 and a 36, which could certainly tip the scale in your favor for college admissions. Injuries in music are also much less common.
Why, then, do most people consider sports to be tickets to a successful career? Is is the earnings sports players make? Derek Carr, the highest paid football player, makes 25 million dollars a year. Justin Bieber, only thirteenth on the list of highest paid musicians of 2016, makes more than twice that: $56 million a year. Taylor Swift, the highest-earning artist, made $170 million.
With all these facts, the world’s tendency to place sports above music seems unnecessary. Why can’t we treat both activities equally? Why can’t we celebrate state sports and district music in the same way? Why are violinists who practice four hours a day considered insane while sports players are just hardworking? The imbalance here is very apparent when it’s laid out, and something needs to be done.
There has been a recent push in the Marian community to not be known as much as the “sports school,” but also have a place for music. More Facebook posts about band, orchestra, and choir, and more advertising for the musical have been apparent in past years, and every Marian student enrolled in the music program really appreciates this.
One other easy way to show appreciation for music is to hold a pep rally for band, orchestra and choir students before or after District Music. This is the musical equivalent of state sports – students will perform individually, in small groups, and as a whole group for top ratings. If the school wished to be more strict about this (all schools are allowed to attend District Music), they could also consider just honoring students and ensembles who earned top ratings for their performance. Currently, protocol is to have all musically involved students meet before school for thirty minutes to receive their awards. This current way of doing things is obviously very different from how state athletes are honored, and holding a pep rally for top District musicians would show appreciation and respect for what they do.
I am not asking that music be given more television time, that people put on face paint to attend concerts, or fans be outraged when the judges give an ensemble a low score. I just want musicians and athletes to be treated as equally as possible. Maybe that’s impossible to change in the world, but it’s certainly possible in our Marian community.